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Gov. Woodrow Wilson at his desk in the New Jersey Statehouse. He served as governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services.

Princeton University drops Woodrow Wilson name

Eisgruber: ‘’Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake’

By David Wildstein, June 27 2020 12:55 pm

Princeton University has removed Woodrow Wilson’s name from the School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College.

“Trustees concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” Christopher L. Eisgruber, the university president, said in a statement today.

Eisgruber said that the decision was made by the Board of Trustees at their meeting on Friday.

“The board reconsidered these conclusions this month as the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks drew renewed attention to the long and damaging history of racism in America,” Eisgruber said. “This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson’s racism disqualifies him from that role. In a nation that continues to struggle with racism.”

Monmouth University removed Wilson’s name from Wilson Hall last week.

Earlier this week, Gov. Phil Murphy hinted that he would stop using Wilson’s desk.

The New Jersey Globe first questioned Murphy on his decision to use Wilson’s desk, which hasn’t been used by a governor in decades – on June 10.

“It’s the only desk I’ve got, but that’s something that I will have to deal with. There’s no question on that,” Murphy said. “I don’t have an alternative at the moment, but I respect what’s gone on elsewhere.”

Wilson served as Princeton University President before his election as governor.  He served as New Jersey’s chief executive from 1911 to 1913, when he was sworn in as president.

Eisgruber’s criticism of his predecessor was harsh.

“Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time. He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice, Eisgruber said. “He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in this country, a practice that continues to do harm today.”

In 2015, students at Princeton University sought to force the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs to adopt a new name by taking over the president’s office for 30 hours.

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